A healthy baby has been born from an embryo frozen for almost 20 years.
The infant’s mother, who is 42, had undergone 10 years of unsuccessful infertility treatment when she was given the embryo last year. She gave birth in May to a boy weighing 3.14kg.
News of the birth, published in the US medical journal Fertility and Sterility, raises ethical questions. A woman could give birth to a baby conceived a generation before she was born or to the biological offspring of her mother or her grandmother.
The baby boy was born from a batch of five embryos frozen in 1990 and given away by a couple who no longer needed them once they had a child from their IVF treatment. The two children are siblings, although born almost 20 years apart. The embryos were available for “adoption” for almost 16 years before they were finally matched with the woman and her husband, who were being treated at a US clinic.
Her doctor, Sergio Oehninger, director of the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, said: “She has been going through treatment for a long time. She was a patient here in 2000. She was a persistent lady.”
The embryos were frozen when they were one day old and had formed just one cell. Only two survived the thaw in August last year, after 19 years and seven months. They were allowed to grow in the laboratory for another two days before they were implanted. Only one survived in the womb, but the pregnancy went to full term.